SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - The U.S. Department of Transportation has released it’s data on 2018 roadway fatalities showing an overall decline compared to 2017.
There were 913 fewer fatalities nationwide in 2018, down to 36,560 people from 37,473 people in 2017. For the first half of 2019 DOT reported a decrease in motor vehicle crashes compared to this time last year.
How does Southwest Louisiana compare?
“In 2017, Troop D had a total of 36 fatalities," Trooper Derek Senegal with Louisiana State Police said. "In 2018 we had a total of 30 fatalities and so far this year, we’ve had 28 fatalities.”
Senegal says many of the fatal crashes State Police have worked in Southwest Louisiana show people not wearing seatbelts.
“Our first fatality of the year was a single-vehicle crash where a driver ran off the roadway, the vehicle overturned, and he was ejected from the vehicle,” Senegal said. “He was not wearing a seatbelt. So many crashes are survivable. If he would have been wearing a seatbelt he would have survived that crash.”
Other factors State Police see in fatal crashes, according to Senegal are drunk driving and excessive speeding, both of which saw a decline in numbers nationwide. Senegal says they typically see more crashes around holidays.
“A lot of those crashes happen on long weekends," Senegal said. "Throughout the year we have 4th of July, we have all these long weekends where everyone is consuming alcohol. We have two months left in the year, we have Thanksgiving and Christmas to get through so we don’t want any more fatalities, but we do kind of suspect there will be one during those times of the year.”
He urges those who have been drinking to always have a designated driver and to always wear your seatbelt, regardless of the time of year.